The negative and sometimes tragic results experienced whenever the health care system is crippled with a doctors’ strike is very sad. What is even more disturbing is that these doctors’ strike occurs too often, thereby putting the health and lives of thousands of people who depend on the public health care system during such periods at stake.
Lagos state is a peculiar one with relation to doctors’ strikes. Public health care in the state has been brought to a halt a more than a few times when doctors and the government refused to reach a compromise with their grievances. Just last year, doctors in the state were at loggerheads with the state government over the latter’s refusal to implement the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS). Government owned hospitals were shut down as doctors refused to treat patients. Many who depend on these hospitals had to revert to the higher priced private hospitals and for those who couldn’t afford it, their health suffered. Some deaths in times past have been blamed on the inactive government hospitals during emergency situations.
And just as residents of the state are in the mood of the Easter break, doctors in Lagos under the aegis of the Medical Guild have announced that they will be embarking on a 3-day warning strike from Wednesday 11th April to Friday 13th April, 2012. They claim the Lagos State Government has again failed to implement the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS).
Vanguard News reports that the doctors have appealed to the people of Lagos to urge the state government to do the needful in order to prevent another crisis in the Health Sector, regretting that the State government has reneged in the agreement it earlier had with them.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos yesterday, Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr. Olumuyiwa Odusote said the Medical Guild Congress at its Ordinary General Meeting, which held on April 3, resolved to go on the strike to press home its demands for the implementation of CONMESS and the downward review of excessive taxation, which the government imposed on the doctors. “During this period, all services will be withdrawn by our members,” said Odusote.
His words, “One year after the Lagos State Government entered into the agreements to implement CONMESS fully and do a downward review of the excessive tax regime, the Lagos State Government has refused to implement CONMESS.”
Furthermore, rather than a downward review of the excessive taxation, in October, 2011, he said the monthly tax paid by doctors was increased.
Odusote said members of the executives have held several meetings with the government, presented several documents and wrote several letters of appeal to resolve the outstanding issues in order to prevent a disruption in the industrial peace in the Health Sector.
He said if need be, in-patients in severe medical conditions during this period may be transferred to hospitals in neighbouring states.
Now that sounds really terrible. ‘In-patients’ in ‘severe medical conditions’ may be transferred to hospitals in ‘neighbouring states’! What will the condition of a patient in a severe medical condition be like after passing through the torturous journey to another state?
These doctors’ strikes in Lagos and indeed the entire country is one too many. Affordable health care is a responsibility of the government and should be provided to the citizens round the clock.
It is my sincere appeal, and that of millions of others that the government does the needful to avert this strike.
News Source: Vanguard News